School District: Burbank USD

Position Seeking: Board Member

Question 1: Please share a meaningful experience you had with art (visual, dance, drama, music, media arts) while growing up and its impact on you.

My most memorable art experience as a child occurred when I was a 9th grader at John Muir Junior High. (1974) I was part of the Mixed Chorus that got invited to the MENC convention that was held at the Anaheim Convention Center near Disneyland. We were the first junior high school group to ever be selected to perform at MENC. It was a very special day, filled with excitement, joy and pride. The effort that the whole group put out to learn several difficult music pieces to perform at the event created bonds with classmates that exist to this day. My junior high choir experiences provided me with a love of music which propelled me into my second career after exiting Pharmacy, which I found unsatisfying. I investing in an electronic musical instrument repair business while I was still in Pharmacy, then bought out my partner when I left the profession and continued to run that business for over 26 years. I can easily trace my love of music back to those 3 years in junior high and that love has been instilled in my daughter, who is currently part of the renowned Burbank High School vocal music program. 

Question 2: How can arts education support student outcomes such as English language development, reducing the achievement gap, and preparing youth for college and/or meaningful careers?

Arts are a core part of a child’s education for several reasons. First, art and music provide for the creation of alternative pathways with the brain, and assist children with critical thinking skill development. Art helps develop spatial relationship skills as well as providing a platform from which interdisciplinary learning can occur. Exposure to movies and theatre can be an important means to connect to English language learners and assist in acclimating them to verbal English. Arts programming many times helps to connect students to school when they other have no affinity towards other coursework. Those connections can then be exploited to encourage attention to other disciplines. In Burbank, with all the entertainment businesses in our town, our students have the opportunity to go from high school directly into many good paying jobs in digital media, animation, production and theatre crafts, just to name a few. Many internships are available to college students that dovetail into a job upon graduation. Finally, many of our graduates have been accepted into incredible programs nationwide, such as Julliard, Berklee, Cap24, as well as local arts programs at colleges and universities such as USC, UCLA, and Claremont

Question 3: What do you think the role of the School Board should be in ensuring that students have continued access to a broad range of study subjects, including the arts (broadly defined)?

In Burbank, as an Arts for All school district, we have a 10 year plan that drives the vision for a sequential arts education for all our students K-12 across for strands: Music, Theatre, Visual Arts and Dance. We have accomplished much of the goals of our original 10 year outline. We have a well developed visual arts program in all grade levels with many of our teachers completing training workshops at the Getty and MOCA, among others. Are music program includes dedicated teacher specialists in our elementary schools and nationally acclaimed programs at our secondary campuses. Dance is well articulated through the grades, although I am attempting to champion a separate Dance offering at the middle school level that is its own program, not something imbedded into the Physical Education classes. Theatre is also an art form with good elementary and high school exposure, but less at the middle school. I am working to have a drama program developed at all three of our middle schools. Currently, only one has a drama program with a full time teacher. The role of the Board is to develop and maintain the vision, adjust the vision as necessary, and continue to support the necessary budgetary financial commitments needed for the programs to exist and thrive. Most importantly, when times are tough, make sure to sustain the commitment at least partially, to ensure that a program never gets fully eliminated, which could take a generation or more to bring back.

Question 4: Do you see a role for arts education in the development of district Local Control Accountability Plans (LCAPs)? If so, how would you hope to use arts education to advance the eight priority areas identified in the LCAP template?

With a broad stakeholder involvement and a community that is very connected to arts and entertainment, it is hard to believe that arts wouldn’t be an important component of our District’s LCAP plan. Certainly arts education can have a profound impact on student achievement and student engagement as can be gleaned from some of my answers to the previous questions. School climate is very positively impacted by the presence of art programs, whether it is a display of student created art, a performance by a choir, band, theatre troupe or dance ensemble. When discussing parental involvement, all the performing arts programs to varying degrees involve parent support, whether it is sweat equity, monetary contributions, or something as simple as driving a student to a rehearsal. The LCAP process allows for directing funding to support key aspects of our Arts programs; providing specific targets for music teachers in our elementary grades, providing dedicated funding for professional development opportunities for our teaching staff, and providing a platform for adding programs, such as additional media and culinary arts to student course offerings in the future. The Board is then tasked with supporting the vision of the plan as adopted, which has lead to successful implementation of many new program offerings and supports in BUSD.